Culturally Grounded Academic Interventions That Build on the Strengths of Indigenous Students

Culturally Grounded Academic Interventions That Build on the Strengths of Indigenous Students


[APPLAUSE] STEPHANIE FRYBERG:
Well, first of all, thank you all for
being here today. It’s very nice outside. So I’m not sure if that says
something about you, me, or how important the topic is. But I’m really delighted that
you chose to come and spend this evening with us. So I made the decision
today to start in a place that, as researchers,
we don’t normally start. I want to start today
with some thanks. I want to give some context
to the work that we’re doing. In honor of the focus of the
lecture series this year, which is about bridging
research and community, I wanted to take
a moment to honor the community that I come from. I grew up in
Tulalip, Washington. I was born and raised
on the reservation. And many of the people
who are in this room today are people who have
played an important role in my development as a
person and as a scholar. When I think about what it
means to look towards developing and seeing the strengths
of indigenous children, I recognize that it’s the
direction for the future, in part because there were
people who saw that in me. It helped me to realize
that that narrow band– the narrow narrative in
which Native children are seen, right? –as struggling, as having
a variety of deficits. So we can think about
things like graduation rates being poor– the lowest
graduation rate in the country. We think about
things like Native– even when they do graduate, that
they’re not adequately prepared for college. Well, that narrative of
the struggling student has taken on a life of its own. And what happens in the
end is that Native students start to wonder whether
they’re struggling, even in the absence of struggle. We get so caught up
in this narrative that it’s important for us to
reframe and redirect the story. And we want to do that
to free children up to reach their potential. And so today, as I think about
what this image– and I just want to go back for a second. When I think about what it
means to me– if you look up at the top, where
you see the houses, that is the beach
that I grew up on. The people here– the canoe
out there is our family canoe. Many of the people in that
canoe happen to be my relatives. And it just so happens that my
uncle is sitting on the rock, here. And he is now one of the
oldest tribal council leaders in our community. He’s 88 and on the
tribal council. But what I love about
this is that it represents the beauty of what I knew. And I didn’t know
myself through struggle. Right? We didn’t have money
when I was a kid. We didn’t have a lot of things. But that’s not how I
thought about myself. You know what you live. And there were
strengths in that. And it wasn’t until
I went to school that I started to realize
that people saw me in a different way– that people
wondered if I would struggle. And this is so
important, in part because these little
children, right? They are our future. And we think about,
all the time, what it means to
redirect, reframe, and retrain, not the
children but the adults they interface with. And so the last
thing I want to do is just point out
that, in the canoe, you see people
holding up the paddle. And so these paddles– when
you hold it up like that, it’s a way of honoring– whether
it be the other canoe that’s coming towards
you, or, if you’ve come to land, the people
who greet you on the land. And so today I
hold it up to you, because you chose
to come to hear about this important topic. And so, going
forward, as we start to set up this idea of the
Native student as a struggler and what it means to
reframe this idea, I want to begin by thinking
about, how do we do this? Well, I offer today
a look at this through a bigger picture,
which we in my field refer to as the “culture cycle.” The culture cycle reminds
us that to truly alleviate the achievement gap
we have to start by looking at every piece
of the culture cycle. So, when we think about
a child in a classroom, it isn’t just about the
child and the teacher. It’s about so much more. It’s about the ideas
that stand behind why children go to school. It’s the ideas that lead to
the development of the school or that set the
stage for what we see as the good or the
right way to be a student. Within that, we set
up institutions. Right? So we have schools,
we have the media, but we also have
classrooms, and we have microcultures
within classrooms, in which teachers play a role. So we get to this level
of the interaction. And within the
interaction, that’s between the student
and the teacher. But sometimes what
our field has shown, it’s not just between
us in relationship, it’s between us in
representational space. It is the idea the teacher
has about me as a student that allows that space
between us to shape the interaction and
ultimately for young children to shape their development
and the outcomes that we see. And so often, in psychology,
when we do research, much of what we do is
we focus in this space. But as a cultural and
social psychologist, one of the things
that we’ve tried to do is to bring back in
sociocultural contexts. And so today, when we think
about social context, what it tells us is that at every
level of the cultural cycle there are representations. There are ideas and images
about the right or good way to be a person. And, for a long
time– an example of this– for a
long time, how we thought about what was
possible for boys and girls, it helped us to understand
that what we thought was shaping what was
possible for girls. And so, as an example,
this is a book that came out in the 1970s. It was a very popular book. I am not going to
read you the book, but I’m going to share a few
pages of the book with you. “Boys fix things. Girls need things fixed. Boys invent things. Girls use what boys invent.” Right? And so today we rail
against these ideas. I mean, the government and
National Science Foundation– the president, teachers,
STEM in every school, right? Science, technology,
engineering, math. We understand, today,
that it’s these ideas that led to girls not becoming
inventors and not fixing things. And we now know that to
rail against those ideas requires a complete
reshaping of the culture. And so we have come
far but not that far. In many of these
fields, girls are still greatly underrepresented. And so, building
on that idea, here is a quote from
Kroeber and Kluckhohn. “If a teacher who has had
great success in teaching White students does not get
comparably good results with Native children,
she thinks this is because Native
children are less bright. As a matter of fact,
the trouble is often that the incentives which
have worked beautifully to make White children
bestir themselves leave Native children cold
or even actively trouble and confuse them. For instance, the
teacher holds out the hope of a college
education, with all that this implies for getting
on in the White world. To at least the
younger Native child, this means mainly a threat
of being taken even further from home and country.” This was written more
than 60 years ago, and it still would apply today. We have not come that
far in our understanding of the variables impacting
school for tribal children. And yet we have many examples
of students who do well, which means that it’s possible. And so, in the work that I
want to talk about today, I want to focus on, what are
features of the culture cycle? So I’m a social psychologist. We study social
context– that interface between person and situation. And so I’m not interested in
just looking inside the person, I want to see the
person in the situation. And the question
for me is always, what do we do to change
the situation, to reframe the outcome for the individual? And so today I’m
going to give you three– I’m going to focus
on three parts of my work. First, I’m going to talk about
cultural models, which are a feature of the culture cycle. And, within that,
I’m going to show one quick study on academic
performance and one on reframing cultural models. Next, I’m going to talk
about growth mindsets. So growth mindsets are
theories about potential. And when we look at
how children learn, what their theory
about potential is, we come to understand the
ways in which the messages we give as the adults
in children’s lives– or, better yet, the rules
we set up in school, or what we reward in school,
or what we reward in society– we teach children what they’re
not, more than what they are. And finally, I want to
talk about some work we did in Marysville
between 2011 and 2014. And, in doing so, I
want to acknowledge that a couple of my
partners in this work are here today– Kristin
DeWitte and Dr. Kinoshita. And so it’s important
for me to recognize them, because when we talk about
doing work in communities, nothing happens without a team. Nothing– nobody is a sole
arbitrator in all of this. It takes a team. It takes a village. OK, so I want to start by
talking about cultural models and what that looks like. So in mainstream
society there is now nearly three decades of
research that tells us that mainstream middle-class
contexts are driven by a set of cultural
norms, values, and beliefs that center
the individual as independent and
separate from others. Now, for many people who grow
up in these middle-class, European American contexts,
what that looks like are these small practices. So, if you have
a child early on, you start by giving
children choices. You encourage your child to have
and engage in self-expression. You teach them that what
they think, what they want, what they like is important. Nothing wrong with that. But it is a particular
cultural model. And it turns out that
it’s a unique model– that most of the world does
not engage in that model. And yet most of psychology
comes out of that model. And so, when we think about
choice and self-expression, we get to a sense that
what is good– so, our understanding of the
self, as separate from others, becomes the good or
right way to be a self. So establishing
independence as you grow up becomes the goal of
becoming a good, healthy adult. But in many parts of
the world, that type of separation from others
is not only unheard-of, but it would be
seen as unhealthy. And so you start to see the ways
in which these models– what is good, what is
healthy– is absolutely tied to the context
in which we develop. And so good actions
promote separation from others and individual
self-expression. Now a more common model is the
interdependent model of self. Now, when I say “common,”
it’s actually the case that most people in the world,
outside of the United States, engage in this more
interdependent model. So too do low-income
European Americans. So too do most underrepresented
minority groups in the US– Asians, African Americans,
Latinos, Native Americans. And what’s nice about this
model is that it’s actually one way we can think
about people that doesn’t allow us or require us
to say, oh, Native people are like this. African American
people are like this. White people are like this. What the model
does is it helps us to understand that we all relate
to the world in different ways. I’m guessing that,
if I took a poll, there are women in this room
who are European American who feel like they might be
that interdependent self. You might be. And understanding these
models allows for variation. So this interdependent
model is an understanding of self as interdependent with
others in social contexts. So, good actions– right? So what your context said is
the good or right or healthy way to be– promote connection
to others and attention to others’ preferences. So yesterday I was in a meeting. And, in that meeting,
we determined that there were a
number of things that had happened over
time that didn’t turn out so well in the larger
structure of the community. But when you step
back, you realize they were done in the interest
of maintaining harmony within the community. So what ends up being good,
how you make those decisions, are not always
about just thinking about one specific
thing– is you have to always think
about how that extends out to other people. So, in a small community, if
you have a fight with someone, it doesn’t just impact your
relationship with that person. But in an
interdependent context, it might also impact your
relationship with their family. Right? And it might last
for generations. And it’s truly
what it means to be interdependent–
is to understand the ways in which one
must step back from that and sometimes sacrifice
saying what you want to say or doing what you want to do,
because it’s not in the best interest of the larger whole. And so these models
of self have been shown to be very predictive. They have been shown to
influence the ways that we think, in very small ways. And I just want to give you
a couple little examples. We had done some associations. This is work I did way
back in graduate school. So we had looked at
what associations come to mind when
European American and Native American college
students think about education. Now what’s interesting is
that, of course– right, these are college students, so
everybody has some commonality. We all think about things like
the acquisition of knowledge, attributes of the
school setting, right tools for success. Now it is the case that the
European American students thought about this more
than the Native students. But nonetheless they’re
all in this context, and those are important
features of that context. But then there are these
things that Native students thought about that European
American students did. So, for them, when they
thought about education, one in five of them thought
about education as a tool to help their community. And then there were
another one in five who, when they thought
about education, didn’t think about
the school at all. They thought about
their family members. They thought about the
people in their community who were their real teachers. And so it’s also the case
that, as one might expect, given the history of
education in this country, that a large percentage
of the students also had negative associations
with education, despite being in college. Right? So, if we were to actually
do these associations with students that didn’t
make it to college, it’s quite likely
these associations would look different. Now, if we do the same
associative– right? So our models in our head are
all about these associations. Right? And so, if we’re thinking
about relationships, then we expect something
different from that person. So, in the case of
teachers, once again there’s a lot of overlap in
what people thought about. But what was different is
that, again, Native Americans thought about close others
who were not teachers. And then you also saw some
of these other associations that they were more likely to
think of negative attributes. Well, why this is
important is that, when we start to think about
individual Native students, and that some
proportion of them have this association in their
mind between school, teacher, relationship, it
means that they expect to have a relationship with the
person who is their teacher. But in most
mainstream classrooms, teachers don’t
necessarily think, oh, I’d better develop a
relationship with this kid so that they will learn. More and more we center
ideas of relationship, but we tend to do it in
different kinds of ways. There’s an expectation that,
when you come to the classroom, you are supposed
to be a learner. But that’s an expectation
that separates the learner from the other. Right? It’s that independent framework. Right? This is me; this is you. You make the choice
to be a learner. And if you don’t,
that’s your choice. But for a lot of
children who grow up in these interdependent
contexts, that’s not the
choice that they see. They see that
learning is something that happens in relationship,
because important people are your teacher. And so that expectation
of relationship is driving their experience. So we actually assessed
this with Native high-school students. We did a study of Native and
European American high-school students– a test of
these cultural models. And, because of the
association task, we included in this
measures of trust. Because we know that trust
is an important variable when we think about what
predicts outcomes, or at least the associations
would suggest that would be true. Now, if it’s the case– right? So we can look. And this is just some
straightforward means of independence and
interdependence. Now one thing that
is really interesting is, if you look here, you see
the higher interdependence levels for Native women
but not for Native men. And what’s interesting
about it is, in this sample, it’s also the case that
the women are doing better in education than men. And so one way that
one might explain that is that it’s easier for Native
women to find relationship, in part because other women
are relationship-driven. But it’s very hard
for Native men, in a hyperindependence
context, being a male, to find the relationship
that they need. And, in fact, as we go forward,
we see, as we would expect, that the Native high-school
students are less trusting across all domains. But when we put
trust for teacher into the bigger picture,
the model works perfectly. So what we find is, for the
European American high-school students, the best
predictor of grades is how independent
they felt. Right? How separate, autonomous
from others they felt predicted how well
they did in school. For Native students who are
in the same school– which is so important, when we
consider the context variable– it’s completely the opposite. So, when you look over here
on the right, what you see is that trust for teacher
and interdependence are the best predictors
for education. So there’s a cultural mismatch,
because their teachers are not Native, in this context. And so the expectation–
when we start to think about, what makes me feel like
a good person, what makes me feel legitimate, that
this context is for me, that I belong in this
context– is that match between what I expect
from the context, what I expect from
the people there, and how I understand myself. And so often what happens–
and this is becoming a bigger issue, as we continue to
diversify as a country– is that more and more students
need their other ways of being to be legitimated
in that context so they feel that match. And here’s what’s
really fascinating about it– is that it’s subtle. It’s implicit. It’s something that– kids
don’t know they need it. It happens under the
radar, even for them. What they feel is
some subtle feeling that, I don’t belong here,
or this is not for me. And so, in essence, the
difference in culture is pushing them out the
door, in these subtle ways. But then, through
the American frame, they think they’re
choosing to leave. And so, going
forward, we started to think– can we
reframe these contexts? Can we understand what it
would mean for a teacher to be able to put out
a different framing– something so simple
as how you encourage a child to get an education? And I’ll be honest– I actually
got this idea from a teacher. So I’ve spent a lot of time
in the Marysville school district– a lot of time doing
research, hanging out, talking to teachers. But we had a teacher
who came up to me who absolutely adored the
Native students in her class. And she said to me, oh, I love– And so she had these two boys
that she really just– I mean, they had her heart. And she said, I
keep telling them that if you get an education
you can change your life. And as she said
it, I thought, hmm, that’s very independence-based. Right? I immediately wondered
if she said to them “If you get an
education, you can change your tribal
community,” would that have a different outcome? And we tested it. And we tested
whether it mattered if that came from an in-group
number or an out-group member. So we offered Native
kids role models who were either white or Native,
and we always offered them same-gender role models. And so they either
were then told “Getting an education will
benefit you in the future” or “Getting an
education will benefit your tribe in the future.” And what we found is that,
in the control condition, kids reported being about
75% motivated in school, across variables. But when we give them
the independence– right? Getting an education
is good for you– across all of the
studies we’ve done, we see this same pattern
where the rates go down. It’s not significant. Maybe if we did a meta
analysis across all studies we’d see significance here. But, in essence, giving
them education the way it’s typically framed
does not motivate them. But then if we try giving
them the way it’s typically framed but with a
Native role model, eh, you see some benefit. But if you give them,
with a Native role model, in education, and you say to
them “Getting an education will benefit your tribe,”
compared to the control condition, you get almost
a 20% boost in motivation. And so these models have a
way– if we understand them as educators, we can reframe
that context for them. And so, across all of the work
that we’ve done in this area– so I’m just going to offer you
a summary– what we have learned is that, for European American
students, their strength– what drives them, what
motivates them– and not every
single one of them, but the majority of
them– is that education is a tool to get ahead in life. It fits the model. It’s what we expect. “‘Learning’ is about
developing autonomous, independent thinkers. Individual competition
and achievement are valued above cooperation.” And “Teachers help students
achieve personal needs and goals.” For Native students,
we’ve learned that, in order to reveal and
to build on and capitalize on their strengths, we need to
know that, for many, education is a tool to help their
family and community. And so literally
they’re motivated to go there and be there because
they can help their community. “‘Learning’ occurs in
interaction with others. Social support, role
models, mentorship, community connections,
and trusting relationships with teachers are
essential features of persistence and motivation.” So, as we think about
these cultural models, I now am going to switch
to talking about mindsets. They’re not
unrelated, but I want to be able to bring them
together at the end. So, in the next part, we
focused a lot in our thinking about culture,
working with schools. And I’m going to show you a
number of longitudinal studies that we’ve done. But we wanted to look at
theories about potential. So so much of education is
about what we think is possible. I heard Uri Treisman give
a talk at the White House, and he talked about how
one of the downsides to American education is
that we go through school and we learn what we’re
not, instead of what we are. So we learn, I’m
not good at math. We learn, I’m not
good at sports. We learn, I’m not
good at relationships. Right? And so it’s a lot harder. It’s sort of like a
weeding-out process. You’re five, and we tell
you you can do anything. When you’re 12, we tell
you, maybe not everything. And by the time
you graduate, we’ve told you exactly what you are
good at and what you are not. But there is some
sadness to that. Right? Because what it suggests
is some fixed ideas– that some people
are good at science. I’ve actually heard educators
say, my family, we just don’t have the science brain. We just don’t have
the math brain. Kids in my family, we
just don’t do math. Right? But math is just
a set of skills. And when you have a good
teacher who builds those skills, you can do math. Research shows it. We’ve proven it. Beyond a doubt, Americans
do not use– people around the world do not
use– the full capacity of their brain. But we have the
ability to learn. Now that we have
FMRI studies, we are nowhere near meeting
the potential of our brain. And so these mindsets
give us another way for thinking about how we can
build on indigenous children’s strengths. So we started by measuring
them, trying to develop a theory about how it works. So, for the mindset research,
past research– decades of research– has shown
the link between mindsets and motivation, between
mindsets and performance. So a fixed mindset is the
belief that intelligence, athletic ability, and
personality are fixed traits. “Growth mindset–
intelligence, athletic ability, and personality are changeable
qualities– a potential that can be developed. Talent is a starting point.” In the years I
spent in the school, what is so amazing about
this work that won’t come out in the data are the great
stories of little kids who learn to have
a growth mindset and who tell us these amazing
stories– about how they were misbehaving in
class, because they thought the teacher thought
that they weren’t smart. And so we taught
them that, actually, not only are they smart,
but everyone has the ability to learn, and that
what the teacher wants is for them to work hard. And that child was
freed that day. And that child walked
into the classroom and declared to his teacher,
wait a minute– you just want me to work hard? And the teacher, having
no idea about what went on in our study, simply
said, well, of course! And he said, but you
don’t think I’m dumb? And the teacher told us
later that she almost cried. And she said, of course I don’t! And he said, oh, OK. And it changed his behavior. Right? So the message this
kid had gotten– the teacher had never told
him she thought he was dumb. But the message,
for many children, are those subtle messages,
those little things that push you out, that make
you question your belonging. And so we measure
growth mindset– And I’m going to show
you the kids’ version, so that you can see– in
the older-kid versions, all we do is we
don’t use the dolls. But with kids, it’s cute, so
I’m going to show you anyway. We use dolls because kids
who are five to eight don’t have the ability
to do abstract thinking. And so we role-play with them. We call them “little people.” We don’t call them “dolls,”
because boys won’t play. And so we engage them
by having a teacher doll who interacts with them. And there are two
features of this that we learned in this interaction. So one is, we measure
academic self-view. And I’ll show you in a
second how we do that. And second, we measure
growth mindset. And so here’s an example
of what it looks like. Right? When we set up
these situations, we want kids to feel
not threatened. Right? And so we put out little
toys for them to play with. We allow them some time to build
a little world around them. And then we start
these interactions, where what we’re going to do
is set up scenarios and then ask them how they would
respond to those scenarios. OK. So, for academic self-view, what
we looked at were attributes like “smart”–
“nice to teacher.” So, over time, we
learned, from kids, that these are
what they associate with being good students. Which makes sense,
because five to eight is more about
social-emotional development. And so things like helping
the teacher, being nice, does what the teacher asks, gets
most of the school work right, nice to other
students, and helps teachers and other students
clean up classroom. What’s interesting is
that when we started the work, one of my
collaborators said, you’re never going to get kids
to say, no, this is not me. But my colleague was wrong. On average, Native students said
no to 2.7 of these variables. So already at age
five to eight they had learned that some
of these attributes for them were not them. Now there’s a
heartbreaking part to that, but I’m going to bring you back. I’m going to uplift
you in just a second. Give me a moment. So we asked them
these attributes about what is a good student,
and then we asked them, which of these
attributes are you? And it turns out
that what they think is a good student is
not what predicts. What they associate
with them is. Now, for mindsets,
what we do is we set up little feedback scenarios. So “Imagine that you are
playing with the blocks. There are blocks
all over the floor. Teacher Debbie asks you to
put them neatly on the shelf. A little while later, Teacher
Debbie comes back and says, ‘There are still
blocks on the floor, and the ones on the
shelf are messy. That’s not cleaning
up the right way.'” Right? So it’s a
negative-feedback scenario. And, just so you know, we always
end with a positive feedback scenario, because
we always want kids to walk away feeling happy. So then we ask them,
next time would you want to clean up the blocks,
or would you let someone else do it? Well, what we find is that
kids vary in their response. If they’re fixed mindset, and
they get negative feedback, they want someone else
to clean it next time. If they’re growth mindset,
then their response to this negative
feedback is that they’re going to do it,
because they’re going to get it right the next time. And so we have a variety
of scenarios that we use. Now, before we get into
the model of how we’ve thought about this work, I
want you to know that overall, as I mentioned, we
know that mindsets have all kinds of positive value. But for Native students,
our prior research has shown that there are ethnic
differences on growth mindset responses, with Native students
endorsing growth mindset less than European American students. Again, right, that’s sad,
because what it suggests is that the messages Native
students are receiving are already telling
them something about their potential. But we know why. I mean, my field has been
studying this for a long time– stereotypes. They’re less likely to
see positive examples of their group represented
as good students or to be exposed
to curriculum that is decidedly Native American. And so what this
tells us, though, is that it’s in the message. The upside is, we can
change the message. And so what I want
to do is show you the ways in which we looked
at a variety of factors in the schools. And we have now– we
have four samples. I’m going to talk
about three today, because they build
nicely on each other. But three samples
where we’re looking at predictors of school grades. So we know growth
mindset to school grades. But what we don’t know is what
mediates that relationship. And so, in my thinking and the
experience of that young boy who was misbehaving because
he thought his teacher thought he was not smart, we put in
there “teacher’s assessment of classroom behavior.” And so if they don’t have
a high score on this, it means that they’re
disruptive in the classroom. If they have a high
score, it means that we’ve created a model that
helps us to understand what we need to change to help
students behave better– to feel motivated
to behave better. Right? It’s the right context–
the right situation for the right behavior. So in the first study
we did we looked only at these first three variables. So we don’t have school
grades in the model yet. We’re merely looking
at the relationship between growth mindset,
academic self-view, and positive
classroom behaviors. So, as expected, we
found a relationship between growth mindset and
positive classroom behavior. So the more potential
you perceive yourself as having, the better-behaved
you are in the classroom. Now it turns out, however, that
that relationship goes away when we put in one
other variable. So we have, in my
field, what’s referred to as a “full mediation model.” So when we put
“academic self-view” in this model, what we find
is that the relationship between growth mindset
and academic self-view is very strong. And so the more
growth mindset you are, the more
positively you identify with these attributes
of being a good student, and that predicts positive
classroom behavior. And when you put
that in the model, this stops being significant. Right? So, if we had stopped
here, we’d have made an incorrect causal connection. We would have assumed this link. Because what’s
really going on is that, through their ideas
about their mindset, it’s shaping their ideas
about themselves in school, and that is leading to
their better behavior. So we try this with
another classroom of third to fifth graders,
and we find the full model. So we find that growth mindset
predicts academic self-view. And again, while these are
related, the important– like, the more powerful line of this–
is that growth mindset predicts academic self-view, which
predicts positive classroom behavior. And not only does that
then predict school grades, but it accounts for 54% of
the variance in performance. That is huge, in a model. I mean, often, in our
models, if we get 10%, if we can account for 10%
of the variance in student performance, we’re
jumping up and down. We’re predicting 54% of the
variance in student outcomes. But what’s exciting
to me about this is that it gives us inroads. It tells us places that
we can start, where we can build on students
feeling good about themselves, where we can build on
cultural knowledge, self-relevance,
developing a sense of who they are as legitimate in
that classroom context. So the one last model
I want to show you– which is, again, another
test of the model, but we looked at it
with a younger sample. So we found this in
third to fifth graders. Does it exist in
kindergarten to second grade? And so we tested. And, once again, we
find the model holds. It holds going down. The only thing different here
is that the growth mindset to positive classroom
behavior– which, keep in mind, is the weaker relationship in
the other– with older kids, it drops out. It’s not significant. But the path is exactly the same
for five- to eight-year-olds. It goes growth mindset– when
they have a sense of themselves as having a lot
of potential, they identify more with attributes
of being a good student. They behave better in school. And it predicts
classroom behavior. And in this study, we
have a smaller sample. And with these younger
kids, what’s interesting is we’re still predicting 28%
of the variance in our model. So we are accounting for a lot
of the difference in student outcomes. And the two places that
are not significant are also interesting, because
what I want you to keep in mind is that the one piece
of school that’s extremely subjective
that we don’t talk about is, this is according
to teachers, and that’s according
to teachers. In both of those variables,
it’s the teacher’s perception of the child’s behavior. It’s the teacher’s perception
of the child’s performance. I’m a teacher. There is subjectivity
in the work that we do. There always is. And so that space between us
is really important for us to bring into high relief. And so, to get to
the last little bit, here, the
mindset-performance link “offers two directions for
enhancing school contexts. We can reframe ideas
about potential and integrate these ideas into
the culture of the classroom.” And if we want it
to be sustainable, we do it at every level
of the culture classroom. “We can build greater
identification with school by attending to the
social representations that foster negative
ability stereotypes.” And so, in the last piece,
I want to talk about some of the work that we
did in the school. I’m not so interested
in the big piece, but I want to give you a feel
for some of the practices that we were trying
to develop, and also what it looked like for us to
try to do this work in schools and now, as we try to
learn how to scale that up, to give it away
to other schools. So, again, I just
want to come back to this model, because
it’s always about attending to the whole system. And so the school we
were working with, Quil Ceda Elementary, is
located on the Tulalip Indian Reservation. At the time that we started
the intervention work, both schools– so we had
combined the two schools– were in the bottom 5%
of schools in the state. Approximately 550
students each year– that varied a little bit– on
average, there were about 80% Native, 10% other
minority, which means there were about 9%, 10% white. 76%, free/ reduced lunch. So, in the past,
the district scores reflected the same pattern
as the state, of no change for Native American students. This is important, because
Native students hear this too. They know. It gets published
in the newspaper. They know. But what this did– and the
work we were trying to do was to free them from that,
to eliminate that stigma. And so I’m not going to go
too much into the model, but these were the
pillars, originally, that we started with. Growth mindset,
culture-relevant, data teaming. So I’m going to talk– right– I’ve already introduced culture
and growth mindset to you. but I want you to see
what that looked like. So in this school we created
immersion environments. So we have a morning
welcome assembly. It continues to this day. The kids come to school,
they come to the gym. They don’t go to
their classroom. They find their
class in the gym. And there’s a
welcome song that’s done that’s a
tribal welcome song. So there are now many
that have been gifted by elders in the community. And then an adult does
a welcome message. And in that welcome message,
what they’re trying to do is to highlight the interface
of culture and mindset. And so, for a long
time, every month there was a focus on one tribal
value and one characteristic of growth mindset. And so, because there
are different numbers, every month you could focus
on something different. So what this looked like
is, around the school you might see posters. Right? “Growing our mindsets.” And, by the way, this is the
kids’ favorite, because they think it looks like a butt. [LAUGHTER] But brains are very funny
in elementary school. We changed the student
guidelines for success. So, instead of CHAMPS
or PRIDE, we had GROW. So, “Grow your brain at
least six hours a day. Respect yourself, all
people, and things. Own your actions and attitudes. And Welcome all who
come to our community.” The power of this is that it
changes the conversation when a child is misbehaving. Right? So instead of saying, this is
not acceptable, you can say, you know, you have
a responsibility to grow your brain every
day, six hours a day. And not only are you
not growing your brain, you’re keeping your friends
from growing their brain. It gets into this very different
and meaningful conversation. Instead of focusing so
much on changing kids, there was a lot of focus on
professional development. We actually started by
changing teachers’ mindsets. And it’s something that I now
feel very passionate about. We also wanted to build this
connection to community. And so you may be
aware of, like, those bumper stickers
that were out there– “My child was an honor student
at” such-and-such school. So we changed that to
honoring families in school. So it looked like “My
child was honored by Quil Ceda and Tulalip Elementary.” More and more, through
this morning assembly, families were welcome. We saw an increase in
community engagement. But more importantly,
we saw more children wanting to engage
in tribal ceremony– huge numbers of children wanting
to be part of salmon ceremony, wanting to be part
of their community, because the school was
playing a role in reifying that relationship. And finally, sending teams
of teachers and staff to family celebrations
and ceremonies, including funerals, so that
kids could see them there in the good times and the bad. And so I just want to show
you a few of the outcomes, and then I’m going to conclude. So, in those three years
that we worked together, we saw kindergarten and first
graders lead the district in oral reading fluency. Right? And this is including, like,
co-op, where you’ve got parents with huge engagement. And we saw our Native
kids leading the district. 95% of kindergarten and
80% of first graders were proficient or above
benchmark in reading. On state literacy tests,
38% of third-grade students met standard, and another
30% were within 10 points of making standard. Right? In the fall– and this
was in the third year– the majority of students
were significantly below standard– more than 100
points, on a 600-point test. And so, using measures of
academic progress, which is a test in literacy
and math for grades third to fifth,
during the spring, during just a short period of
time, we saw 60% of students make more than
one year’s growth. And at least half of these
students made one and a half to two years’ growth. And so the school met state
annual measurable objectives in every category, with
Native students meeting state standards improving by 18%. Can I remind you that
these were kids who did not change for many years. And so, in conclusion,
using the culture cycle to enhance academic
performance, we can alleviate this
struggling-Native-student narrative if we
engage Native students at the level of interventions
that are culturally grounded, that focus on all levels
of the culture cycle. It isn’t children
who need to change, it’s systems that
need to change. It’s understanding
that we can value– in all of the work we’ve done
with first-generation college students, in all of
the cultural work, it never impacts
European Americans. They benefit, too. So it’s not like we have to
choose one way or the other. We can do both. And, given our
changing demographic, it’s important that we
learn how to do both. And it’s important
for European Americans to learn how to
be interdependent, so that they also can move
between these contexts in the work world. We can do this by building
schools that reflect and foster a diversity
of viable ways of being, by creating matches, by helping
students build identities that maximize potential. So “building matches”
means finding ways for interdependent
children to feel good in our school context. And finally by valuing old
identities– who they are, and what they bring to school–
and scaffolding new identities. In other words, we want more
than one self per customer. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]

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